In last week’s episode, we are introduced to a lot of new characters and see for the first time the story’s perspective from the side of the Marleyans and their Eldian soldiers. It is an incredible start to the final season, especially with how we saw a full Titan invasion involving advanced weapons and tactics.
This episode picks up where that episode left off, and now I fully understand why Isayama is considered one of the greatest Japanese mangaka in the past decade or two. This episode doesn’t feature an epic battle; instead, it provides us with great insights on numerous characters and the world of Attack on Titan as a whole.
Continuing from what we’ve seen in the past episode, Titans are no longer the ultimate weapons in the world. And for good reason. After all, while Titans can be utilized in a variety of tactics, almost all of them are stuck in their base forms. On the other hand, conventional weapons like ships, guns, and aircrafts could be improved, making the giants obsolete in land warfare.
But other than talks of war and a couple of cameo from a certain “hunter”, the best thing about this episode is the character interactions. For the first time, we see that the opposite side is not too different at all. The Eldian soldiers behave like a real family, even though most are barely out of their childhood stage. And to be honest, they are more of a tight-knit group than the Survey Corps’ rather ragtag band of misfits quirky individuals(with the sole exception of Armin). We see a side of Zeke that we haven’t seen before and a stark contrast to his usual brutality in combat: he is kind, compassionate, and even understanding and caring to his subordinates, especially to Colt and Falco.
Reiner was not left out either as he cherishes Gabi like a real sister. One interesting to note here is a bittersweet moment where he briefly talks about his life on Paradis Island to his family. While initially agreeing that the Eldians living there are “demons”, his train of thought switches partway to actual fondness for his former comrades in the Survey Corps, revealing that he still considered them his friends despite what he did, and which country he is fighting for.
The revelation that the Eldians living in Marley hate their kin on Paradis Island comes as a shock, but not without reason. After all, it was King Fritz who abandoned to their fate, which in itself is justifiable as well. Naturally, the “good” Eldians never wanted anything to do with them, and since they are only treated harshly if they go against Marleyans, their lives are relatively peaceful to a degree, except for being used as cannon fodder in war and returning home with PTSD.
Episode 2 shows Isayama’s style of storytelling, which focuses on characterization and morality. That there is no good or bad people, and the only thing that exists is a grey area where everyone can freely choose to step into. Furthermore, there are quite a few tidbits of foreshadowing scattered throughout the episode, and it’s fun hunting them all down like easter eggs. It is enjoyable on its own despite the lack of fight scenes simply because it gives us what most anime lack nowadays: character development and buildup. Overall, this is a solid 9/10.